Evaluated interventions addressing developmental transitions for youth with mental health disorders: a meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • Purpose

    The objective of this meta-analysis was to provide a quantitative synthesis of the effects of studies evaluating developmentally appropriate programs or interventions for transition-age youth with mental health disorders.


    Studies, between January 1992 and March 2021, were included if they contained a sample population with a median age between 12 and 25 years and with a mental health disorder and described the results of health interventions addressing aspects of developmental transitions. Independent reviewers screened study texts and assessed the risk of bias. Random effects meta-analysis was used to pool data on standardized mean differences.


    Under neurodevelopmental studies (6), the effect size of interventions measuring social outcomes was 1.00 (95% CI: -0.01 to 2.00), parental stress levels was -0.10 (95% CI:-0.74 to 0.55), autism symptoms was -0.40 (95% CI: -1.58 to 0.78), and self-determination was 0.16 (95% CI:-0.38 to 0.70). Under mental illness studies (3), the effect size of interventions measuring adolescent depressive symptoms was 0.48 (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.96) and parental depressive symptoms was 1.09 (95% CI: 0.20 to 1.97).


    There is no effect of interventions except on parental depressive symptoms under mental illness studies. Further research with comparable outcomes and assessments is needed.Implications for rehabilitation:Interventions for youth with mental health disorders should be developmentally appropriate and incorporate elements to assist youth in multiple aspects of their lives.The following approaches should be considered in interventions: skills training, prevocational/vocational guidance, a client-centered approach, and/or an ecological/experiential approach.Intervention researchers and practitioners should incorporate similar outcome assessment tools and measures in order to allow for valid comparisons between intervention effectiveness.

publication date

  • August 29, 2021